Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Oscar Speech

The Academy Award  acceptance speech is a funny thing. It can be spontaneous (ok, you have had several months to prepare so don't act like you jotted it down on a napkin on the limo ride over), cringeworthy (Angelina Jolie and her brother), boastful (director James Cameron's "I'm king of the world" fell a bit flat), short and sweet (Joe Pesci uttered six words) or grateful to the point of thanking everyone in the family tree. Here are a few classic moments that were not drowned out by the orchestra:

Cate Blanchett (above) as she accepted the Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator (2000) "Thank you to Martin Scorsese. I hope my son will marry your daughter."

Adrien Brody lays on one a startled Halle Berry when he won the award for Best Actor for The Pianist in 2002. Audiences gasped. "I bet they didn't tell you that was in the gift bag," Brody quipped.

"You like me, you really like me" was Sally Field's exclamation when she won Best Actress for Places in the Heart in l985. The comment was the butt of Oscar jokes for years to come. To her credit, it was a reference from a line from her first Oscar winning role in Norma Rae. Unfortunately, no one got the point.

Grace Kelly said "This is one of those times I wish I smoked and drank"upon acceptance for her Best Actress award in 1954 for The Country Girl.

Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting in 1998 and humorously remarked,
"It's like winning the golden dude. A great honor. Before I didn't have the chance of the Jamaican bobsled team of I do."

While he was actually introducing Elizabeth Taylor and not accepting an award, who could forget David Niven's priceless observation as a streaker ran past him...."Well ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen. But isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?"

Tom  Hanks chose the moment to thank  a former teacher who was "one of the finest gay Americans" when he accepted his award for Best Actor in Philadelphia. Problem is the teacher had not come out of the closet. Oops. Wasn't this recreated in a film with Kevin Kline years later?

"Hello Gorgeous." Pure Streisand as Babs accepted her Best Actress award for Funny Girl in l968.

"This is the only naked man who will be in my bedroom" noted Melissa Etheridge for her Best Song win ("I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth).

Forget the speech...  City Slickers actor Jack Palance chose to do push-ups instead.

And while it the moment didn't involve speeches, I would have to vote for Rob Lowe and Snow White's opening number at the 1989 Oscars possibly the most cringeworthy moment in Oscar history. The twenty minute dance number of Proud Mary was excruciating and left audiences wondering, "what were they thinking?" Thankfully Lowe's career survived.

Only in Hollywood...

Happy Oscar weekend and many thanks to The New Yorker for the Designs on Film review!


  1. Nice compilation of memories here! Two little corrections, though: Cate Blanchett (not Winslet) and the title of your book is Designs *on* Film. ;-)

  2. That's Cate Blanchett above, not Kate Winslet

  3. Thanks to those who caught my typo on Cate's name -- I had Titanic and Winslet on the brain!

  4. We have readied our speech. Hope we win the Oscar for writing some day.
    Suneel and Rajesh Gaur
    Mumbai, India.